New York Liberty Player Breanna Stewart Wins 2023 WNBA MVP
Breanna Stewart, in her debut season with the New York Liberty, has been crowned the 2023 WNBA MVP in one of the closest races in league history. The announcement, made on Tuesday, revealed that Stewart narrowly beat runner-up Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun by just seven points. This margin is the second smallest in the history of the award. Furthermore, the 13-point gap between Stewart and A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces, who placed third, is the narrowest margin between the top three MVP vote-getters on record.
Stewart expressed her enthusiasm for the tight MVP race, stating that it highlights the talent and versatility of multiple players in the league. This is the second MVP award for Stewart, who previously won in 2018 while playing for the Seattle Storm.
Reflecting on her achievements since her first MVP win, Stewart expressed her gratitude for the significant changes in her life, including her marriage to Marta Xargay Casademont and the birth of their daughter, Ruby, in 2021. The couple is now expecting their second child, due in October. Stewart finds pride in the fact that her daughter will witness her receiving the MVP award.
The announcement came shortly before the Liberty’s Game 2 in the WNBA semifinals against the Sun. Stewart’s performance in the game included 11 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 blocks, contributing to the Liberty’s 84-77 victory. Winning six more games would secure the team its first-ever WNBA title.
Stewart’s success marks several milestones for the franchise. She is the first Liberty player to receive the MVP award in the team’s 27-year history. Stewart’s accomplishment also places her among the few players to win multiple MVP awards and the few to win MVP in their first season with a new team.
The Liberty’s general manager, Jonathan Kolb, praised Stewart for her resilience, selflessness, and professionalism, which she brought to the team every night.
Stewart received a total of 446 points from a panel of 60 sportswriters and broadcasters, including 20 first-place votes, 23 second-place votes, and 17 third-place votes. Alyssa Thomas received more first-place votes than Stewart, marking only the second time in WNBA history that the runner-up garnered more first-place votes than the winner.
Despite not winning the MVP title, A’ja Wilson remained focused on the team’s upcoming game against the Dallas Wings. She expressed disappointment but emphasized the importance of staying focused on the competition.
Stewart’s decision to join the Liberty in free agency turned out to be historic, as her impactful performance in her first season helped the team achieve its best regular season record yet. With Stewart as their centerpiece, the Liberty finished the regular season with a 32-8 record. They also won the Commissioner’s Cup championship game against the Aces in August.
The Liberty’s success has continued in the playoffs, where they are currently competing in the semifinals. If they overcome their 0-1 deficit against the Sun, they will make their first appearance in the WNBA Finals since 2002.
Stewart’s individual accomplishments this season are remarkable. She averaged 23.0 points per game, the second-highest scoring average in a player’s first season with a new team. Stewart set a record with four 40-point games in a single season, as well as three games with 40 points and 10 rebounds, the most in WNBA history. She also achieved career highs in assists and nearly matched her career-best rebounding stats.
Stewart expressed pride in her personal achievements and the exceptional season the Liberty had, which led to her MVP win. She highlighted her ability to play multiple positions and her commitment to greatness on and off the court.
Throughout her career, Stewart has accumulated numerous accolades, including national player of the year titles in college, NCAA championships, EuroLeague championships, and Olympic gold medals.
Stewart’s MVP win further solidifies her status as one of the league’s top players and cements her place in WNBA history.
Rachel Adams is your WNBA insider, delivering comprehensive coverage of women’s basketball. With a commitment to highlighting the talent and achievements of WNBA players, she provides game analysis, player profiles, and inspiring stories from the league.